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KAKNAK NIGHTS                         235
Allah; but who, melting into this tender adoration, could honestly circumscribe it with any name?
I looked up, hushed. There were the scintillating planets, which hung in space in this clear sky, and drew one's gaze upward. Each possessed the subtle, intangible beauty of a great poem; each evok ^d a troubling reminder that I was but a transient passenger on the surface of this planet, which was itself mantled in mystery as the night.
I looked down again. God-hunger was printed on every one of those earnest faces below me.
Once more the Dervishes began their slow chant: "There is no Deity but Allah!" bowing the head and body twice with each repetition of the phrase. They sang softly at first until, after a quarter of an hour, they quickened the rhythm of their chant and movements, deepening as well the tone of their voices. That which had formerly been a measured song became ultimately a series of sharp, forcible ejaculations. As time passed on they grew more and more excited and their words resembled hoarse exclamations, uttered as they rolled their heads in unison with their voices, crossed their hands upon their breasts, and swayed their bodies. Yet, never at any time, or in any way, did they earn the title of "howling Dervishes." That high degree of ecstatic fervour which they had reached was never in any way offensive, and stopped suddenly immediately it had swelled and accelerated to its rapturous crescendo.
There was dead, divine silence, most impressive by contrast with the volume of sound heard before. Thereafter they rested.
Coffee and tea were once more served, and for the remainder of the night the meeting continued along gentler lines. The Dervishes chanted in subdued voices, sometimes reinforced by the audience, whose two hundred throats repeated the name of Allah at certain moments, sending up a melodious, throbbing offering of song to the heavens.
When, at long last, the first rays of the liberating dawn broke into our circle, the Dervishes fell silent. There was a final meditation—"On and in Allah" they called it—in which the whole assembly took part, before the meeting broke up, under the rosy dawn-light that lay in thin streamers across the sky.
A couple of days later Sheikh Abu Shrump came as my guest to tea. He brought a small square piece of paper which